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SmartGate allows Singapore travellers speedier entry into Australia

Singaporeans visiting Australia can now zip through immigration counters at the country's airports, after Canberra extended the use of its SmartGate facilities to travellers from Singapore.

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans visiting Australia can now zip through immigration counters at the country's airports, after Canberra extended the use of its SmartGate facilities to travellers from Singapore.

Australia's Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb said on Wednesday: "Customs and Border Protection is launching a trial to allow Singaporean e-passport holders aged 16 years and over to use SmartGate self-processing facilities in Australia's eight major airports.

"The extension to Singaporean travellers will make them the first Asian nation to use this state-of-the-art technology."

SmartGate is a self-service processing option for eligible travellers entering Australia.

It is currently available to Australian, New Zealand and United Kingdom citizens on a permanent basis and to United States and Swiss electronic passport holders under trial arrangements.

The key benefit is its speed. Rather than having to queue to see a Customs and Border Protection Officer, SmartGate travellers can self-process through passport control.

In 2013, there were 385,300 visitors to Australia from Singapore, an increase of 12.1 per cent over the previous year.

Last year, more people visited Australia from Singapore than any other country in Southeast Asia.

"By 2018, over 80 per cent of all travellers into and out of Australia will hold an e-passport," Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Michaelia Cash said.

"As more travellers use SmartGate, Customs and Border Protection officers can focus their attention on people who pose a risk to the border, while legitimate, law-abiding travellers can pass through with ease."

Customs and Border Protection also plans to extend the trial to other nationalities over the next 12 months, with priority given to countries with the most regular visitors to Australia. 

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